Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

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gi.gifThis project contains oral history interviews with and storytelling presentations by former faculty and staff of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks during their 50th Anniversary Celebration held in May 2000 in Fairbanks, Alaska. On May 5, 2000, there was a morning storytelling session and an afternoon storytelling session where speakers from a variety of disciplines and time periods shared their memories of working at the Geophysical Institute. In 2020, the Geophysical 50th Anniversary Celebration Project Jukebox was upgraded from its original HTML format to Drupal. The information in this project reflects the context of the original creation date. Some information may now be out of date.

The Geophysical Institute was established by an Act of Congress in 1946, and is where scientists study geophysical processes and turn data into information useful for state, Arctic and national priorities. The Institute is home to the Alaska Climate Research Center, the Alaska Earthquake Center, the Alaska Satellite Facility, the Alaska Space Grant Program, the Alaska Volcano Observatory, and the Poker Flat Research Range.

People

Kristina Ahlnäes Kristina Ahlnäes

Originally from Sweden, Kristina Ahlnäes came to Alaska in the 1970s and worked at the Institute of Marine Sciences and the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She worked at the Geophysical Institute from 1973 to 1999 as a remote sensing specialist who studied physical oceonography and marine geology. In 2000, she participated in the morning storytelling... Read More

Syun-Ichi Akasofu Syun-Ichi Akasofu

Born in Japan in 1930, Syun-Ichi Akasofu earned his bachelor's degree in geophysics in 1949 at Tokohu University in Sendai, Japan and came to Alaska in 1958 as a graduate student to study the aurora borealis under Dr. Sydney Chapman at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). He was a pioneer in the use of all-sky cameras and his research led to better understanding of the shape of the aurora and auroral storms. As a space physicist, he was instrumental in the... Read More

Jim Baldrige Jim Baldrige

Jim Baldrige came to Alaska in 1968. He had a background in computers and had worked at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley, California. Upon arrival in Fairbanks, Alaska, he found a job at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He then worked at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks from 1976 to 1993 as Senior Programmer/Analyst where he worked with real-time computer instrumentation. In 2000, Jim participated in the... Read More

Al Belon Albert "Al" Belon

Born in Gap, France in 1930, Albert "Al" Belon grew up during World War II and the German occupation. After his first year of college, Al came to Fairbanks in April 1949 to continue his education and graduated three years later with a degree in physics, while working part-time at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). He went on to receive his master's degree in physics from UCLA in 1954. He and his wife, Shirley, returned to Fairbanks in 1956, and he returned... Read More

John Benevento John Benevento

Originally from Massachusetts, John Benevento, known as "Benny," worked at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks from 1979 until his retirement in 1997. He worked in the electronics shop, where he helped scientists implement their needs for research equipment, eventually becoming Electronic Shop Supervisor. He also helped develop the Poker Flat Research Range. He received his electrical engineering training by correspondence course aboard the USS Roanoke... Read More

Mary Ann Borchert Mary Ann Borchert

Mary Ann Borchert is a trained biologist who came to Fairbanks, Alaska in 1971 to run the electron microscope lab at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. After about a year, the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) took over the funding and operation of the lab and Mary Ann became an employee of the Geophysical Institute until her retirement in 1986. Mary Ann has remained an active volunteer in the Fairbanks community, at one... Read More

Sue Ann Bowling Sue Ann Bowling

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1941, Sue Ann Bowling earned a bachelor's degree in physics at Radcliffe/Harvard University, and in 1963 moved to Fairbanks, Alaska to further her studies at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She was the first woman graduate student as well as the first woman to receive a doctorate degree at the Geophysical Institute. After a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, she... Read More

Enid Cutler Enid Cutler

Born in Missiouri in 1921, Enid Cutler was married to Dr. Howard Cutler, the Vice President of Academic Affairs at the University of Alaska from 1962 to 1966 and the first Chancellor of the University of Alaska Fairbanks from 1976 to 1981. After his retirement in 1981, Dr. Cutler remained active at the university and in the Fairbanks community until his death in 1995. Enid was an accomplished artist who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1942 and a Master of Fine Arts in 1944 from the... Read More

Steven Estes Steven Estes

Steven Estes has worked as a seismologist and project engineer at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks since 1975. Most recently, he has been a research scientist with the Institute's Alaska Earthquake Information Center. His research focuses on earthquake seismology, seismic hazards, and volcano monitoring. In 2000, Steven participated in the afternoon... Read More

Merritt Helfferich Merritt Helfferich

Merritt Helfferich was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1935, and came to Fairbanks, Alaska in 1958, where he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Early in his career he worked as a ballistic meteorologist and flight safety officer at the Poker Flat Research Range, and in 1969 as an ice technician on the SS Manhattan's transit of the Northwest Passage. He has a Masters Degree in Public Administration focused on science policy and organizational design... Read More

Ned Manning Ned Manning

Ned Manning came to Alaska in 1974 and worked for the Naval Arctic Research Laboratory (NARL) in Barrow, Alaska (now known as Utqiaġvik). In 1987, he was hired by the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks as a machinist where he participated in the machining and design of equipment, tools, instruments, and products for many research projects, such as the Freon Gravitational Engine, which is an energy producing device utilizing Arctic air and water as its source, and the... Read More

John Miller John Miller

Originally from Pennsylvania, John Miller came to Alaska while serving in the Army during the Korean War. Having been trained in electronics, after his military discharge he worked as an engineer for Fairbanks' radio station KFAR. Given his interest in engineering, in 1958 he got a job as an electronics technician at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in Fairbanks, Alaska. During his career with the Geophysical Institute, he helped with research on the ionosphere... Read More

Dan Osborne Daniel "Dan" Osborne

Originally from California, Daniel "Dan" Osborne came to Alaska in 1967 to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). After studying geophysics, in 1970 he was hired by Charles "Bucky" Wilson at the Geophysical Institute at UAF to install a remote research station in Stevens Village, Alaska and collect data related to research on infrasound and the aurora borealis. Dan went on to have a career with the Geophysical Institute as a project engineer, running their Poker Flat Research Range... Read More

Bill Sackinger William "Bill" Sackinger

Born in Bolivar, New York in 1939, William "Bill" Sackinger earned an undergraduate degree in physics from Notre Dame and a doctorate in electrical engineering from Cornell University. He moved to Alaska in 1970 to teach electrical engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). After eleven years, he transferred to the Geophysical Institute at UAF where he taught and conducted research on sea ice until 1995 when he retired as an associate professor of geophysics and electrical... Read More

Glenn Shaw Glenn Shaw

Originally from Butte, Montana, Glenn Shaw studied physics in college and was involved in wave tube research in California and Arizona before coming to Alaska in 1970 for a job as a professor of physics at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). He taught courses on atmospheric chemistry and cold and aerosol physics, and much of his research focused on arctic haze, atmospheric chemistry, and climate change. He retired in 2004, is currently Emeritus Professor of... Read More

Roger Smith Roger Smith

Originally from England, Roger Smith earned a Ph.D. in physics and has conducted field observations in remote settings in both the Arctic and Antarctic. He came to Alaska in 1984 to work at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he conducted research on and taught courses about upper-atmospheric dynamics and auroral dynamics at high latitudes by optical methods. He served as director of the Geophysical Institute from 1999 until his retirement in 2011, when he... Read More

Bill Stringer William "Bill" Stringer

William "Bill" Stringer was born in St. Louis, Missouri and mostly grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada. He earned his undergraduate degree in physics from New Mexico State University, and in 1962 came to the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) to work on a masters in auroral dynamics and a Ph.D. on protons in the auroral display. He began to work for the Geophysical Institute at UAF as a student, and in 1967 became research faculty and an associate professor of geophysics. He worked on remote... Read More

Larry Sweet Larry Sweet

Born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, Larry Sweet became interested in science after the launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite. In 1958, he was hired by the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) as a student to work on data collection at remote field sites, and continued to work every summer while in college. He earned a college degree in engineering from Washington State University and upon graduation was hired by Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale,... Read More

Don Turner Donald "Don" Turner

Born in Richmond, California in 1937, Donald "Don" Turner received his bachelor and doctorate degrees in geology from the University of California, Berkeley, and was a professor of geology at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks from 1970 to 1988. His research and teaching focused on geology and geochronology. He built and ran the Geophysical Institute's first geochronology lab, and his research included summers in remote Alaskan locations with hot springs and the... Read More

Gunter Weller Gunter Weller

Born in Germany, Gunter Weller partly grew up in Australia when his family moved there in 1950 when he was fifteen years old. His scientific career spread from aeronautical engineering to meteorology to polar research. It began in 1961, when he spent a year doing research in Antarctica, and continued with his Ph.D in meteorology/glaciology at the University of Melbourne in Australia, and doing other research at various locations in Antarctica. In 1968, he moved to Alaska when he was hired as... Read More

Eugene Wescott Eugene Wescott

Born in Hampton, Iowa in 1932, Eugene Wescott mostly grew up in North Hollywood, California when he moved there at age ten. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and moved to Alaska in 1958 to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) where he obtained his Ph.D. in physics in 1960. Eugene worked at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks from 1958 to 2009, through two International Polar Years, and had an... Read More

Charles "Bucky" Wilson Charles "Bucky" Wilson

Charles "Bucky" Wilson was a professor of physics at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks from 1961 until his retirement in the mid-2000's. His research and teaching focused on glaciology, cosmic rays and auroral-magnetic phenomena. Bucky was an avid mountain climber, who made many first ascents, and much of his field research occurred in the mountains of Alaska, including the Wrangell-St. Elias range, as well as in Antarctica. In 2000, he participated in the... Read More